It’s probably time for the non-NBA diehards to take their focus off of hoops. Summer league is over and we won’t be getting frequent news for the next six weeks or so. Sure, we still have Kevin Love, Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe and some other hurdles to clear. Still, if you want to start spending more time on the Rotoworld NFL page to get ready for your fantasy football draft, the NBA team won’t be mad.
If you weren’t in love with summer league and want to play catch up, I went nuts on coverage. You can find a blurb about just about any guy worth your time on our player news page and many of them have some quotes from coaches or players. Also, you can check out my summary series:
Yes, I spent way too much time on summer league this year, and if I ever go crazy, the summer league coverage will probably be the first domino. You can follow me on Twitter for other NBA stuff @MikeSGallagher.
It’s a Love thing
One of my favorite shows is ‘Last Week Tonight’ on HBO and they have a segment called ‘How is this still a thing?’ That’s exactly what comes to mind with Kevin Love these days. It’s hard to believe we’re still talking about it after more than two months and an update basically every day.
Well, after it seemed like the Warriors were way out in front, the Cavs moved into the driver seat with wanna-be general manager LeBron James in the mix. The Cavs are expected to offer up a deal revolving around Andrew Wiggins, which seems like a nice haul for the Wolves. The Bulls are also serving as competition with an offer of Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. The deal is going to go down, it's just a matter of who and what.
If this deal ever goes down, we’ll discuss it upon its completion.
Where’s Pau goin'? He’s Chicagoan
Pau Gasol decided that the pursuit of his third NBA championship is more important than money, which isn’t a surprise because he’s one of the most high-character guys in the league. The Bulls currently have the most loaded frontcourt rotation in the NBA with Gasol, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott, so it’s still unclear how coach Tom Thibodeau is going to play it. Let’s take a crack at it, though.
I think we all know Gasol’s statistical value goes down in Chicago. He was a point-forward for the Lakers and he definitely won’t be doing much of that with the Bulls. His usage rate was at 26.4 percent last season, which is one of his highest of his career. Over his career, he’s been over 20 percent in each year, but I really think his usage could dip below 20 this season (assuming Derrick Rose stays healthy), and he may fall below 30 minutes per game. He’s more of a mid-round pick as a 13-8 guy this upcoming season.
Considering their depth, you’d think McDermott plays close to 33-66 percent of his minutes at small forward and will come off the bench. He projects as a high-usage guy and that would fall in nicely with the second unit. There were few others as impressive as Dougie McBuckets at Vegas, but we have to take his tremendous showing with a tablespoon of salt. Players go off in Vegas all the time and don’t start their careers off in impressive fashion, so we have to keep the hype train in the station for now. I’d avoid him in standards.
Joakim Noah had a breakout season and there’s no doubt people will be overpaying for him in October. The Bulls have to drop his minutes this upcoming season and they’re playing with house money after he stayed healthy. Noah had a slew of injuries before last season and I wouldn’t spend a top-20 pick on him.
Taj Gibson is a huge loser from the Gasol news. He’s likely going to get less run than perhaps even last year. While he did break out, his huge year was due to coach Thibs not wanting to play Carlos Boozer down the stretch. This year, the Bulls have plenty of reliable options, all of which don’t kill ball movement like the way Boozer did. It’s hard to be excited about a Gibson repeat.
Overall, the only Bull I’ll probably even consider targeting is Jimmy Butler. They’re going to run a very slow tempo, they should have a decent amount of garbage time in the weaker Eastern Conference, and their rotation is going to be a mess. As for Butler, I really liked what I saw out of his offensive game down the stretch. To be clear, I’m not going to be reaching for him or anything.
Not at the table, Carlos
As mentioned, Carlos Boozer is headed to the Lakers and it’s sad news. Everyone was all excited about rookie Julius Randle getting extended run after he was drafted in the lottery, but we might have to wait a while before that happens.
Boozer has long been known for slowing down offenses. He did have 31.6 passes per game, but they led to just 1.6 assists per game. In other words, his passes weren’t useful. By comparison, Andre Iguodala had 4.2 dimes per game on his 31.5 passes. As for his offensive arsenal, here’s a breakdown from Synergy:
Based on the Lakers’ personnel, you’d think they’d want a guy with better post presence or better in pick-and-roll than Boozer. Kobe Bryant probably isn’t going to be able to get to the rim as easily as before and their offense is built from the outside.
The Lakers really can’t play Boozer or Randle at center, so they’re somehow going to have to figure out how they can play Jordan Hill over 24 minutes on a regular basis. They’re in some trouble and maybe they give newly-signed Ed Davissome minutes at the five. This one is going to be fun and will be one of the more interesting stories to follow in training camp.
Much like the Lakers, the Bucks are a murky mess with their rotation. The only player who seems like a lock to be in the starting five is Brandon Knight. Although, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bucks use him off the bench like a Jamal Crawford-type guy and we certainly don’t know if he’ll be starting at the point or at shooting guard.
Yes, the easy guess on their starting five would be Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders. On paper, that looks like a mess. They don’t have any real ball handlers and Ersan’s interior presence was non-existent last season. Or anywhere really.
Personally, I’d strongly consider starting Kendall Marshall, Knight, Antetokounmpo, Parker and Sanders. Marshall is a pick-and-roll point guard who suddenly improved his 3-point shot, which would be a great fit. Parker also showed he can play power forward at 6’8” and he was very good on the glass at Duke and at summer league. Knight was also a much better shooting guard based on his numbers next to Nate Wolters. Knight had higher efficiency and assist percentages next to Wolters while his usage rate was down. Plus, he ranked last in assist:turnover ratio in his last season with the Pistons before he lost his starting job to Jose Calderon.
It’s a crapshoot and the only players who are relatively safe are Knight and Parker. I love drafting Alphabet late and could see myself taking a chance on Kendall, too.
Roy and Rodney
Roy Hibbert is going to be working out with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar this summer presumably to work on his post game. Usually, centers will fork over $50K a week to work with Hakeem Olajuwon to develop some more moves, but not the 2014 All-Star -- that still sounds so weird. Hibbert probably isn’t quick enough to learn from The Dream, so he really just needs to work on his hook shot.
If you saw Hibbert play from March-May, chances are you’re not putting him in the top 100 on your board for fantasy. He looked like he was playing with 15-pound weights in his shoes and he had no effort on the glass. If you want to draft him, it’s probably not a bad idea to try and sell high after a month or two. He crashed and burned so badly last season after a nice start.
Rodney Stuckey will slide into Lance Stephenson’s minutes, which isn’t really ideal. He shot just 27.3 percent from 3-point range last season and he had just 2.1 assists per game. Those are probably two very important needs for the Pacers with the loss of Lance. He’s not really going to be worth targeting in most leagues and perhaps this could help out George Hill’s usage rate. Plus, I’d expect David West’s numbers to go up.
ALF changes networks
The Mavericks really lucked out with small forward. The Bobcats goofed and maxed out Gordon Hayward, which kept their money tied up and keep them from signing Chandler Parsons to an offer sheet. There was really no way the Jazz were going to let Hayward go anywhere, so it was a bit of a screw up at the time. Sure, getting Lance Stephenson actually made it work out for them, but that’s not the point.
The Rockets didn’t match on Chandler Parsons to give them a huge upgrade at small forward, which was an unexpected signing. Plus, they were also able to get Al-Farouq Aminu, who they we’re targeting even before the Parsons deal. Basically, they hit a home run in free agency because they made a huge splash with bringing in a LeBron-type guy. This might sound crazy, but Parsons and Aminu are a better fit for the Mavericks than Carmelo Anthony. They already have plenty of scoring in isolation and Parsons seems like he'd thrive in Rick Carlisle's system.
As for Aminu’s stats, he won’t be doing much. He doesn’t have much of an offensive skill set and he’ll just give them length against some of the bigger small forwards like Kevin Durant. They also really need size on the wing with their tiny backcourt. He won’t be worth drafting in almost any fantasy league.
Andrew Bynum may sit out the 2014-15 season, so we can now move him down zero more spots from where we had him heading into the season.
It's officially Draft Guide season. We have a ton of stuff on deck for this year's edition. It should definitely be worthwhile. By the way, regular season>Draft Guide season>rabbit/duck season.